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Issue 16, 2010
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Tuning responsiveness and structural integrity of a pH responsive hydrogel using a poly(ethylene glycol) cross-linker

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Abstract

Stimulus responsive hydrogels have received considerable attention due to their ability to exhibit reversible volumetric changes in response to external stimuli. The shrinkage or expansion of a hydrogel often results in irreversible structural failure, but limited efforts have been made to resolve the challenge of hydrogel fracture. This study presents that the number (FM) of cross-linkers and the molecular weight (Mw) of the cross-linkers play critical roles determining the responsiveness and the structural integrity of a hydrogel exposed to external stimuli. A pH-responsive hydrogel was prepared by cross-linking poly(acrylamide-co-acrylic acid) with bis-acrylamide (Bis) or poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) of varying Mw. The deswelling rate of the hydrogel incubated in an acidic medium was solely controlled by the number of elastically effective cross-links (N) which was increased with FM and Mw of the cross-linker. The structural integrity of the hydrogel during a volumetric change was dependent on the work to fracture and the deswelling rate, which was tuned with the Mw of the cross-linker. These critical roles of cross-linkers in mediating the elastic response and the structural integrity of the hydrogel were further related to the ability of cross-linkers of different Mw to self-organize. Ultimately, the results of this study will be highly useful to tuning performance of a wide array of stimulus responsive hydrogels.

Graphical abstract: Tuning responsiveness and structural integrity of a pH responsive hydrogel using a poly(ethylene glycol) cross-linker

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Publication details

The article was received on 12 Mar 2010, accepted on 26 May 2010 and first published on 28 Jun 2010


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0SM00094A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2010,6, 3930-3938
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    Tuning responsiveness and structural integrity of a pH responsive hydrogel using a poly(ethylene glycol) cross-linker

    J. H. Jeong, J. J. Schmidt, C. Cha and H. Kong, Soft Matter, 2010, 6, 3930
    DOI: 10.1039/C0SM00094A

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